Sprockets plans DeGrassi tribute, Canadian film retrospective

The Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children celebrates its 10th anniversary in April with a program that includes a tribute to the long-running Degrassi TV series and a retrospective of Canadian children’s films.

The Reef is an animated film with voices by Freddie Prinze Jr., Evan Rachel Wood and Rob Schneider.
(Sprockets International Children’s Film Festival)

The festival opens April 13 with The Reef, a U.S.-Korean animated production about an orphaned fish who takes on the biggest shark in the ocean, said Sprockets director Jane Schoettle, who announced the lineup on Tuesday.

The Degrassi franchise will be celebrated with a showcase featuring producer-creator Linda Schuyler, cast members and contributors to shows stretching from Kids of DeGrassi Street to DeGrassi: The Next Generation.

Four award-winning Canadian features from previous Sprockets festivals will be screened as part of the children’s films retrospective:

Martin Wood’s The Impossible Elephant (2000), about a young boy who wants an unusual pet.

Laurie Lynd’s I was a Rat (1999), about a mysterious boy who comes to live with a childless couple.

Richard Ciupka’s The Mysterious Miss C. (2002), about an unorthodox teacher.

Gaurev Seth’s A Passage to Ottawa (2001), about an Indian boy looking for a superhero in the strangest of places.

Adam Beach plays Mike Maquinna and Aaron Miko is Adam in Luna Spirit of the Whale.
(Sprockets International Children’s Film Festival)

Another Canadian film Luna: Spirit of the Whale, from director Don McBrearty, is one of this year’s special presentations. It stars Adam Beach, Jason Priestly, Tantoo Cardinal and Graham Greene in a story about the plight of an orphaned orca and a man and a boy who want to help her.

Sprockets will also be screening 40 features from around the world, among them:

The Three Musketeers (Denmark), directed by Janis Cimermanis, Alexandre Dumas’s classic novel recreated with puppet animation.

When the Show Tent Came to My Town (Japan), directed by Yoshihiro Fukagawa, a modern fable about differences and standing up to bullies.

Red Like Sky (Italy), directed by Cristiano Bortone, about one boy’s struggle to resist the limitations placed on the blind.
Azur et Asmar (France), directed by Michel Ocelot, an animated tale of two boys who grow up as brothers then develop a sibling rivalry that causes a rift in their relationship.
vThe Sprockets program also includes a short film component, a school program and workshops for young filmmakers.

The festival closes April 22 with the animated comedy The Ugly Duckling and Me about a rodent who leads a stray ugly duckling on a perilous journey. The Irish-Danish-French film by Michael Hegner and Karsten Kiilerich is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s classic.

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